Once it is upgraded to district-level town, Sapa, in the north-western province of Lao Cai, will welcome a new wave of investment in planning and infrastructure that will help to provide visitors with more experiences and services, thus contributing to boosting the local tourism.
According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam has received nearly 16.3 million international visitors in the first 11 months of 2019, up 15.4% over the same period last year.
Statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism showed that arrivals by air accounted for more than 80% of foreign visitors in 2018. It is obvious that aviation infrastructure is an important factor for tourism development.
Therefore, aviation infrastructure in the sustainable tourism development strategy was chosen as one of key topics for discussion at the recent 2019 Tourism Forum. It is believed that once aviation infrastructure is enhanced, the number of international arrivals to Vietnam will grow strongly.
Recognising the essential role played by the aviation industry in developing tourism, the Ministry of Transport has recently announced the decision to approve adjustments to the detailed plans for Sapa airport until 2030, with the redesigned capacity to serve about 3 million passengers per year.
In addition, the build-operate-transfer (BOT) project to connect the Noi Bai-Lao Cai expressway, which is scheduled to be completed after 2020, is expected to meet the increasing transport demands of vacationers and shorten the travel time between Lao Cai and Sapa. Investment in infrastructure will help to open doors for visitors to the misty town.
More opportunities are also being launched to help Sapa tourism take off as Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung recently signed a decision approving the planning for Lao Cai Province for the 2021-2030 period, which targets to develop Lao Cai into a bridge connecting economic and external relations between Vietnam, ASEAN countries and the southwest of China.
With a vision to 2050, the long-term plan is to develop synchronised and modernised socio-economic infrastructure and transform the province into a centre for research, and to preserve the identities of ethnic groups in the northwest of Vietnam.
In recent years, Sapa has witnessed positive growth in the number of tourists thanks to its efforts to improve the local tourism ecosystem. According to statistics, 2.5 million tourists visited Sapa in 2018, generating approximately VND4 trillion in tourism revenue.
In the first nine months of this year, Sapa has welcomed more than 2.26 million travellers, and is on the right track to realising its target of welcoming 8 million vacationers in 2030 and becoming a more attractive touristy destination in the future.